Iloilo, the bastion of press freedom

(Message of UP Visayas Chancellor Clemente Camposano to the participants of the First Regional Conference on Media-Citizen Council today, September 16, 2023 at UPV Auditorium, Iloilo City. The conference is jointly organized by the Iloilo Media-Citizen Council, Philippine Press Institute, International Media Support and UP Visayas with support from Metro Pacific Iloilo Water, MERALCO PowerGen Corporation-Global Business Power, The Manila Times, and the Peace & Conflict Journalism Network)

Maayong adlaw sa inyo nga tanan!

It is with great pride, and indeed, also with great hope, that I congratulate all of you who are behind this seemingly modest, yet actually historic, achievement.

Our fair city has always been a bastion of press freedom. I believe that the economic, cultural, social  and political forces that have been our city’s lifeblood — the very source of its strength and vitality — are the very same forces that have nourished this tradition.

It is no accident of history, therefore, that this commercial enclave produced the likes of Graciano Lopez-Jaena and Rosendo Mejica.

Press freedom and democratic ideals have deep roots in our city. Yet, today we honor these roots not by celebrating the past but by embracing the future. And embracing it boldly!

The establishment of the Iloilo Media-Citizen Council and the crafting of the Journalists’ Guide are pathbreaking initiatives, not only in responsible journalism but also in media citizenship. Because genuine freedom comes with a commitment to serve the common good.

The advent of powerful digital tools has all but ensured the unfettered flow of information. Widespread and easy access to these tools have led to the circulation of fake news and disinformation.

The internet and social media, once celebrated as the harbingers of ever-increasing freedom, have become tools of mass manipulation.

In this context, self-regulation is not only urgent but absolutely indispensable. The spirit of self-regulation and responsible journalism will serve to inoculate media practitioners, helping them avoid becoming unwitting participants in disinformation.

Self-regulation is our “anting-anting” against the malevolence that lurks in the shadows of this digitally enabled world.

I therefore salute the Media-Citizens Council of Iloilo and the people behind it for having both foresight and courage. I salute you for your enduring and profound commitment to press freedom. Finally, I salute you for your citizenship.

May this bold step that you have taken strengthen all of us as we struggle to extend the boundaries of human freedom!

Long live the free press!!!